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Hain Celestial CEO Irwin Simon’s Returns to Family Business with Empire Acquisition

Irwin Simon’s father was a kosher butcher who taught his son business ethics, but was risk averse, says the Hain CEO

Irwin Simon

Hain Celestial CEO Irwin Simon has been winning in the competitive food business by revolutionizing the natural and organic category with Hain’s brands which are popular the world over. Now Simon, whose father was a kosher butcher, is revisiting tradition with the purchase of Empire kosher foods.

What eating healthy foods and keeping kosher have in common is watching what one eats, paying attention where the food comes from and how it was raised. It would seem the Empire kosher would be a logical combination with Hain Celestials holistic offerings. Empire was already health conscious as well as kosher, and features hormone-free, humanely raised, antibiotic free poultry. In 2010, Empire Kosher Valley, which featured sustainably raised fowl.

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Hain Celestial purchased the 80% stake of Empire Kosher for $57.6 million. It already owned 20% a stake in Empire. Around 2, 000 of Hain Celestial’s offerings, even prior to the Empire acquisition, are kosher. Irwin Simon told Marketwatch, “Empire is a strong brand in a growing category with a lot of experience, which provides us with the opportunity to broaden our existing portfolio of organic and natural brands into healthier kosher products. Empire should leverage Hain Celestial’s knowhow and infrastructure to pursue new categories and kosher product offerings.”

Irwin Simon’s father ran a kosher dairy store in Nova Scotia. He was also a kosher butcher and used to slaughter the meat in the back. Simon told Inc. about his childhood, “As a family, five kids, we all worked in the store, and my father taught us work ethics, how to treat people, to work with people.” Simon often wondered why his father didn’t take more risks and expand his business, but he certainly has taken risks and expanded with his own business, Hain Celestial.



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